free summer events in Toronto

If you’re still using paper guidebooks when you travel, you probably won’t find a mention of most of the following summer events in Toronto, which are either new this year, have a new twist, or have only been happening for a few years.

And for you locals, there is likely something here that will be new for you too! The best part is: most of these events are free.

Front Street Foods

The food market that opened in front of Union Station last year has now moved to the Podium at Adelaide Place, a raised courtyard at the corner of Adelaide Street West and York Street. The market will showcase Toronto’s best chefs, restaurants, bakers, food entrepreneurs, and artisanal food makers. Each vendor will offer a small curated menu that best represents its specialty for both lunch and dinner.

Date: June 13 to Aug 5, 2016 (weekdays only)
Price: free

Union Summer Market

As for Union Station, it’s hosting a whole new food festival this year. Twenty-one different food and drink vendors will set up in front of the newly renovated train station which will also feature a licensed area (for alcohol consumption), a fresh produce market place, and live music.

Started only last summer, this market location has become a downtown highlight for the crowds of downtown workers and commuters. New this year will be an outdoor movie screening on Wednesdays.

Date: June 27 to Sept 5, 2016 (every day)
Price: free

Live music on the patio at Roy Thomson Hall

Roy Thomson Hall, home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, presents live music on its outdoor patio every Thursday and Friday night this summer. Forget classical and think more along the lines of salsa, reggae or blues. They’ll feature a different musical style every week and a different band each day. Of course there will be food and drinks too (not free)!

Date: June 17 to Sept 2, 2016
Price: free

New digs for Luminato Festival

Luminato is one of North America’s preeminent art festivals happening over a couple of weeks each June. It showcases visual arts, music, theatre, and some more unusual performing art such as parkour. In total, there are 3000 performances featuring 11,000 artists from 40 countries.

This year, the festival is moving into a brand new space, the iconic Hearn Generating Station on Toronto’s waterfront. The massive decommissioned electrical generating station is being converted into a temporary theatre, art gallery, music stage, restaurant, and more.

Dates: June 10–26, 2016
Price: some events are free

Movies under the stars

The Christie Pits Film Festival presents a movie every Sunday from late June to late August in Christie Pits Park at sunset. Bring your own blanket and snacks.

Sugar Beach also presents movies under the stars for three nights only in mid-August. What makes this one special is the two-sided screen set up on a floating platform in Lake Ontario. You can either watch it from the shore (bring your own chair, cushion or blanket) or from your sailboat on the other side! That’s why they call it the sail-in cinema!

Date: June 26 to Aug 28 for Christie Pits Park; Aug 18–20 for Sugar beach
Price: Pay what you can for Christie Pits; free for Sugar Beach

Want more summer events in Toronto?

Here are some more free things to do in Toronto this summer.

The Tourism Toronto website has a more exhaustive list of what’s new and happening in Toronto this season.

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